By Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT
“Like this, Daddy,” Lucas explained to me.
We were sitting on his bed and our heads were close together, looking at his woobie, a little bear with a small blue blanket attached to it. Then he took his woobie, and folded it over his finger so the satin band that wraps around the edge of his woobie was all that showed. The moment was so intimate, I feel like I need to write in a whisper.
Then he rubbed it against my lips, the way I have seen him do it so many times to himself.
“Feels nice,” I told him.
“Or you could put it here,” and he rubbed it against my forehead.
There’s a certain joy he seemed to feel showing this to me and I think I know why. His showing me what he does with his woobie is his way of showing me how he copes at night, how he deals with the dark when he can’t sleep, but doesn’t want to wake us up.
It is a sense of accomplishment, “Look what I did, Daddy.”
But I am slightly disturbed by the whole experience.
On the one hand, I think it is wonderful that he has taken the tools we’ve tried to give him and adapted them to what he needs. It is not just the woobie that makes him feel better, it is the feel of the satin rubbing against his skin. I also suspect it is not only the feel of the satin that feels good, but that the repetition of rubbing it against his skin that must also help calm him down, to relax him a bit so he can more easily fall back asleep.
On the other hand, Dorit doesn’t have anything like this. She does not have any coping techniques to deal with the night, because she is not scared by it. But he is and seeing him teach me, share with me how he uses his woobie to feel better, gives me a vision of him lying in bed, late at night, in the not so dark, but still too dark of his room, looking up at the ceiling, not wanting to bother us, rubbing his woobie against his lips to try not to feel so scared, hoping he will fall asleep soon.
He is that way because of my genes, because of my family traditions, and I wish I could make it so he never had to deal with it at all. But I have to console myself with the belief that though I can’t remove the anxiety from his life, I have done enough to help him live with it. He does go to sleep at night for the most part without any trouble thanks to his woobie, his Happy Thoughts and All The People That Love him. He sleeps through the night most of the time for the same reasons.
Still, I wish there was more I could do.